[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[March 21, 1995]
[Pages 376-377]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on the Appointment of Bonnie Campbell as Director of the
Office of Violence Against Women
March 21, 1995

    Thank you, Sarah, for your wonderful remarks and for the powerful 
example of your life. I was watching you speak today, thinking of your 
story, wondering how many other stories like yours there might have been 
if our society had responded more properly and how many more there will 
be now because we are going to do the right things.
    I thank Attorney General Reno and Secretary Shalala, and of course, 
Senator Biden and Senator Hatch and Senator Boxer, Senator Harkin, 
Senator Kerry, Senator Moseley-Braun, Senator Wellstone--we've nearly 
got a quorum--[laughter]--Congresswoman DeLauro, Congresswoman Mink, 
Congresswoman Morella, Congresswoman Blanche Lambert Lincoln. I thank 
you all for being here.
    This is an important day for me. This is an issue with which I have 
dealt as President, as a Governor, as an attorney general, as a citizen, 
going for years with my wife to the shelters in our State for battered 
women and their children, and as a human being. And I have looked 
forward to this day for a very long time.
    We spend a lot of time in Washington, and we are now having a great 
and fascinating debate about what the role of this Government ought to 
be and how we're going to get into the next century and how we're going 
to create opportunity for all the American people. This is a good thing 
that we're doing. It's exciting, and I'm having a good time. But you 
know, let's be honest with each other. If children aren't safe in their 
homes, if college women aren't safe in their dorms, if mothers can't 
raise their children in safety, then the American dream will never be 
real for them, no matter what we do in economic policy, no matter how 
strong we are in standing against the forces that would seek to 
undermine our values beyond our borders. This is key to everything else 
we want to do.
    So I applaud the Members of the Congress, and especially those who 
have been recognized already, especially Senator Biden and Senator 
Hatch, for recognizing that we had to take responsibility for trying to 
come to grips with issues that we ordinarily would think of as issues 
that belong to local law enforcement or local social agencies or even to 
the privacy of the home.
    When we were fighting so hard last year to pass the crime bill, with 
the emphasis on more police and more punishment and more prisons and 
more prevention, one of the things that almost got lost was the Violence 
Against Women Act. I think it almost got lost for a very regrettable 
reason in this day and time: The Republicans and the Democrats weren't 
fighting about it. We really had a national consensus that we had to do 
something. And because we knew we had to do something and it passed, it 
was almost unnoticed.
    But you know, domestic violence is now the number one health risk 
for women between the ages of 15 and 44 in our country. If you think 
about it, it's a bigger threat than cancer or car accidents. The 
incidence of rape is rising at 3 times the rate of the crime rate. The 
FBI estimates that a woman is beaten in this country once every 12 
seconds. And we know, too, that often when a spouse is beaten, the 
children are beaten as well.
    For too long, domestic violence has been considered purely a private 
matter. From now on, it is a problem we all share. What are we going to 
do about it? The first thing we have to do is do what we can to prevent 
violence. One part of the crime bill I am proudest of will help in our 
efforts to stop repeat offenses against women. It will prohibit 
individuals with a restraining order against them from purchasing or 
possessing a gun, no ifs, ands, or buts.
    When crimes do occur, we must restore the rights of victims to their 
proper place. That means giving them the right to speak at sentencing 
hearings. And above all, it means helping victims rebuild their lives. 
We'll require sexual offenders to pay restitution to their victims. We 
must help people who suffer violence put their lives back on track and 
put the burdens on the criminals where they belong.
    To help in prevention and in assisting victims, the crime bill 
establishes a Violence Against Women Office at the Department of 
Justice. Today I am pleased to announce that Bonnie

[[Page 377]]

Campbell of Iowa will be the first Director of that office. As Iowa's 
first female attorney general, Bonnie Campbell helped to enact strong 
domestic violence and anti-stalking laws in that State. She worked with 
counties and college campuses to raise awareness about domestic 
violence. And she endorsed a victims' rights amendment to the State 
constitution. A big part of her new job will be helping States and 
communities to deal with domestic violence.
    Today we are making available $26 million to help the States open 
rape crisis centers, to staff domestic violence hotlines, to provide 
victims advocates, to pay for more officers and more training. This is 
the first downpayment on a 6-year commitment of $800 million for this 
    This is part of a report I should make at least to these Members of 
Congress who are here about the crime bill. The work has already begun. 
In just 4 months we have awarded more than 16,000 police officers to 
half the police departments in America. We're taking guns and criminals 
off the streets. The ``three strikes and you're out'' law is being 
enforced in Iowa and in many other States throughout the country. In 
short, we are under budget and ahead of schedule. And I want more of 
that from our Government.
    We passed this crime bill with bipartisan support. And I'd be the 
last person to say that it's the end-all and be-all, the ultimate answer 
to all the problems of crime in America. But I will not permit the crime 
bill to be undercut. It is just starting to make a difference in the 
lives of Americans. We have to keep going. We have to make a difference 
in the lives of everyone, but especially the women and the children we 
are called here today to pledge our allegiance to protect.
    Let me begin this introduction of Bonnie Campbell and end it with a 
simple thank you. It's hard to get anybody with good sense to leave Iowa 
to come to Washington. [Laughter] And I thank her for doing it and for 
the shining example she has set in public service and for the excellent 
work I am confident she will do in this important position.

Note: The President spoke at 1:11 p.m. in the East Room at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Sarah M. Buel, Evelyn Green Davis 
fellow in law at Radcliffe College and 17-year activist on family 
violence issues. Following the President's remarks, Ms. Campbell made